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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (3)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
- Idaho (2)
- Illinois (2)
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa
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- Kentucky (1)
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland
- Massachusetts (2)
- Michigan
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- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada (1)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
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- New York (4)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma (1)
- Oregon (2)
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (3)
- Utah
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia (2)
- Washington (2)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.* (1)

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (10)
- France (1)
- Indonesia (1)
- Ireland (4)
- Italy (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

24 / 50 books. 48% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

48 / 50 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

40 / 52 books. 77% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

10 / 25 books. 40% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

12 / 26.2 miles. 46% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

26 / 100 books. 26% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

65 / 104 books. 63% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

44 / 52 books. 85% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

71 / 165 books. 43% done!
Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Shining-ish Mystery/Horror Novel a Creepy, Can't-Look-Away Page Turner (with a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

There's a reason I'm not a professional writer of plot summaries for novels!  Rarely can I come up with something as succinct but telling as the one above.  It says everything you need to know about The Sun Down Motel, the newest haunting thriller from Simone St. James, without giving anything away.  And you do want to go into this one with as few preconceived notions as possible.  Suffice it to say, the book offers up lots of The Shining-ish thrills and chills.  Riley Sager calls it "deliciously creepy" and I can't think of a more apt description.   Although it was freaky enough to make me dive under my covers every time my house creaked even though I was reading it in broad daylight, it's a fun kind of freaky.  I enjoyed the colorful characters, the eerie setting, and the pulse-pounding plot, so much so that I read The Sun Down Motel almost in one sitting.  If you dig a good scare, don't miss this one.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Shining by Stephen King and The Widow's House by Carol Goodman)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language, violence, disturbing subject matter, and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Sun Down Motel from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


Are you interested in winning your own copy of The Sun Down Motel?  Its publisher is generously offering one hardcover copy of the book for me to give away here at BBB.  All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter widget below.  Please note that only readers with U.S. addresses are eligible to enter.  Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: On Vacation

I love Top Ten Tuesday, as you all well know, but some weeks I'm just not feeling the topic du jour.  A case in point?  This week's prompt:  The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover.  I don't have anything against the topic; it just feels like I'm constantly talking about my same favorite books over and over.  So, I started brainstorming fresh subjects.  Since President's Day was yesterday, I considered books about presidents, but politics is actually one of my least favorite things to read about.  The Monday holiday means those of us in the U.S. got to enjoy a three-day weekend, which got me thinking about vacation.  I've been on enough of them to know that things rarely go exactly as planned and sometimes go wholly, horribly, hilariously wrong.  Perfect vacations are no fun to read about, but disastrous ones?  Bring it on!  I wracked my brain for ten books I've read about vacations gone awry and couldn't come up with that many, but I found a whole slew that I'd like to pick up.  

Before we get to that, though, I want to encourage you to join in the TTT fun.  If you're looking for a way to get involved in the book blogging community, find new blogs to enjoy, and add great-sounding titles to your TBR list, then this is the meme for you!  Click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl for a few instructions, then create your own post, and start checking out other people's lists.  Easy cheesy.

Okay, here we go with the Top Ten Vacation-Gone-Awry Novels I Would Like to Read (in no particular order):

1.  Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy—This suspenseful novel concerns two families who go on a cruise together.  While at a stop in Central America, the kids go missing, prompting their parents to turn on each other in their fear and guilt.  What happened to the children?  Will they be found alive, dead, or not at all?

2.  The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland—Annette Feldman wants to celebrate her 70th birthday with all her children and grandkids, who haven't spent significant time together in more than ten years.  When she books them all on the same cruise, the forced family togetherness brings up family secrets, bitter rivalries, and plenty of teenage angst.  Stuck with each other for the foreseeable future, the Feldmans will make waves, but will they sink as a family or swim?  Sounds entertaining!

3.  Tomorrow There Will Be Sun by Dana Reinhardt—This is another novel about a birthday celebration gone awry.  This time, two families are in Puerto Villarta for a relaxing getaway/birthday bash.  It doesn't take long, though, for tension to start creeping into paradise.  Will their "perfect" vacation be the thing that tears both families apart forever?

4.  The High Season by Judy Blundell—In order to afford their dream house by the sea, Ruthie and her ex-husband have to rent out their shared beachfront property during the summer.  When a group of rich, intrusive vacationers descend on her beach house and into her life, Ruthie experiences an unforgettable summer that will change her life.  

5.  The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen—A vintage ocean liner is making its final voyage, giving her passengers a chance to experience the throwback glamour of a 1950's luxury cruise.  It soon becomes apparent, however, that everything is not okay with the aging ship ...

6.  One Little Secret by Cate Holahan—Susan needs some time away, so she invites her new neighbors on a beach getaway with her and her husband.  As the couples get to know each other, secrets are shared and revealed.  One person says too much.  The next morning, one of them is found dead on the beach.  Whodunit?

7.  Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead—Gathered on an island to celebrate their daughter's wedding, the Van Meters are in for an eventful vacation ...

8.  Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan—This family drama features the Kellehers, who are gathering for their annual summer vacation at the beach.  It doesn't take long for tempers to rise, secrets to out, and frustrations to surface, leading to an unforgettable holiday gone awry.

9.  The River by Peter Heller—When two college buddies set out on a much-anticipated canoeing trip, their perfect vacation is threatened by an approaching wildfire.  After hearing a couple arguing nearby, they set off to warn them about the danger—only to discover that no one is there.  The next day, however, they spy a man paddling down the river alone.  Is it the same man they heard the night before?  If yes, where is his female companion?  A wilderness survival/mystery novel?  Yes, please!

10.  The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren—I've been seeing this vacation novel all around the book blogosphere.  It features a man and woman brought together by a wedding where everyone but them gets food poisoning.  With a free honeymoon holiday up for grabs, the sworn enemies embark on a trip to paradise.  They can get along well enough to masquerade as newlyweds for ten days in Hawaii, right?  Sounds like a fun contemporary romance.

There you have it, ten fictional vacations gone horribly wrong.  Have you read any of these novels?  Can you think of other titles that fit in the category that I need to read?  Have you ever experienced a holiday gone awry?  I'd love to hear from you.  Leave a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!
Monday, February 17, 2020

Big Little Lies-Ish Debut Entertaining and "Discussable"

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Isobel Johnson considers it her duty to challenge the entitled thinking of the students she teaches at wealthy Liston Heights High.  Sure, her liberal methods occasionally garner a raised eyebrow from the administration or the occasional criticism from a tightly-wound parent, but that just means they're effective, right?  Still, when Isobel receives an anonymous voicemail accusing her of going too far, she's surprised.  She's even more stunned to learn she's become the target of a smear campaign that threatens not just Isobel's position at the school, but also her entire teaching career.

Julia Abbott will do anything for her two kids, including buying her son a coveted role in the upcoming high school musical.  After all the volunteer hours she's put in over the years, she figures she's owed a few favors now and then.  When one of her helicopter mommy maneuvers lands Julia in a hot spot thanks to a video gone viral, however, she discovers she can no longer bribe her way out of trouble.  This time, the consequences of her actions will have far-reaching effects on everyone in her family.

As the two women deal with their separate, but intertwining battles, they will have to decide when to back down, when to stand up, and when to hurl themselves into the ring and fight with everything they've got.

In the vein of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, Kathleen West's debut takes a sharp, cutting look at the politics, privilege, and power plays that parents wield in order to push their children to the front of the pack in a competitive, high-pressure school environment.  Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes shows just how far some parents will go and how little administrators and teachers can—and will—do to stop them.  While Julia's actions seem outrageous, West, a veteran middle and high school teacher, insists it's par for the course.  Unbelievable.  In promotional material for the book, West says her aim was to produce a "discussable" novel.  She has certainly done that, while also creating a story that's engrossing and entertaining.  With short, punchy chapters; interesting, recognizable characters; and bright, snappy prose; the book is a quick, easy read.  However, the questions it asks are not so simple:  What is a parent's role in their child's education?  How involved should they be with homework, extracurricular activities, and teacher/student conflicts?  How far would you go to help your child achieve?  Questions like these will certainly lead to lively book club discussions.  

Personally, I liked Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes but didn't totally love it.  While most of the adult characters are relatable, none of them are particularly likable. I did enjoy the role reversal of the adults behaving badly, letting the kids shine as examples of honesty and fairness.  I also liked that the novel kept me reading fast and furious to find out what would happen next.  Overall, I enjoyed it.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a handful of F-bombs, plus milder expletives)

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
Friday, February 14, 2020

New Psychological Thriller Whacked and Weird

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In regards to Darling Rose Gold (available March 17, 2020), a debut novel by Stephanie Wrobel, I have just two words—messed up.  The book tells an odd, twisted tale about a mother and a daughter who are both, you guessed it, in need of some serious psychological help.  The only question is, who's the victim and who's the abuser?  Which one, if either, is telling the truth?

Because of a debilitating, but mysterious illness, Rose Gold Watts spent her childhood in hospital beds, doctors' offices, and isolated at home in her wheelchair.  She was kept out of school, separate from germy children, and away from anything that could potentially harm her.  Except for Patty Watts, her dutiful, much-pitied mother.  Turns out, it was never a disease causing Rose Gold's misery; it was Patty.

After serving five years in prison for child abuse, Patty still proclaims her innocence.  All she's ever wanted, she protests, is to take care of her daughter.  Having forgiven Rose Gold for testifying against her, Patty desires reconciliation.  Rose Gold, now a single mother herself, appears to want the same thing.  To everyone's shock, she invites Patty to live with her when she's released from prison.  Thrilled at the chance to get reacquainted with her daughter and newly acquainted with her grandson, Patty joyfully accepts.  It doesn't take long, though, for strange things to start happening.  Is Patty being paranoid, or is Rose Gold not quite as forgiving—or as weak—as she seems?

Like I said, this book is messed up.  I won't give anything away, but for me, it was pretty obvious what was going on from the get-go.  Most of the twists, therefore, didn't surprise me.  Nor did the finale, which just felt sad, depressing, and unsatisfying.  Despite all this, I have to admit that Darling Rose Gold is compulsively readable.  Even though I could tell where the story was heading, I still had to know if I was right or not.  It's just that kind of novel.  Overall, though, this book is just whacked and weird.  It turned out to be just an okay read for me.

(Readalikes:  I've seen Darling Rose Gold compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, which seems apt.  It also reminds me of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and Broken by C.J. Lyons)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a dozen or so F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Darling Rose Gold from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Showin' a Little Readerly Love

It's Top Ten Tuesday time!  Get excited!  Since Valentine's Day is in a few days, this week's prompt is a love freebie.  I don't know why freebies throw me so, but I just could not come up with anything fresh and original for this topic.  So, I'm going to highlight ten books I've read so far this year that have garnered some love from me.  I'm not saying these are perfect, favorite reads, just ones that I've enjoyed.

First, though, be sure to click on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few instructions, make your own TTT list, then hope around the blogosphere showing some love to the participating blogs.  It's fun and a great way to revisit favorite sites, find new ones, and add some fabulous-sounding reads to your always-growing TBR pile mountain mountain chain.  What's not to love?

Top Ten Books That Have Earned Some of My Readerly Love So Far This Year (in no particular order):

1.  Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon (available April 28, 2020)—Maybe it's the Mormon pioneer ancestry that flows through my veins, but I love me a good wagon trail story.  Harmon's newest concerns a 20-year-old widow named Naomi May who is journeying across The Overland Trail with her family.  Trekking West is difficult enough, but when Naomi falls in love with a half-Pawnee mule skinner, things get even more complicated.  Where the Lost Wander is primarily a love story, but it also boasts plenty of adventure, humor, drama, and heartbreak.  I finished this sweeping saga last night and loved it.

2.  The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James (available February 18, 2020)—I was fortunate to snag a copy of this creepy novel, which is definitely more Halloween than Valentine's Day.  It's about an eerie little town in upstate New York where young women tend to go missing.  Our heroine, Carly Kirk, moves to Fell to investigate the disappearance of her aunt, who vanished from the motel where she worked over thirty years ago.  Soon, Carly is caught in a kind of time warp at the empty motel, which is a whole lot more occupied than anyone realizes.  If you like a good The Shining-ish story, you're definitely going to want to check out this freaky tale which had me jumping at every sound, even though I read it in the middle of the day with all the lights on ...

3.  The Wake of the Lorelei Lee by L.A. Meyer—The Bloody Jack series is one of my favorite YA series of all time.  It's fun, it's exciting, it's different, and it's just all kinds of entertaining.  Even though the tales get "saltier" and bawdier as they go, I still love these books.  Someone suggested listening to these novels on audio because the narrator—the late Katherine Kellgren—is so fabulous.  I agree.  She's excellent.  I enjoyed this one a lot, just as I have every other Bloody Jack book.

4.  Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain—I already reviewed this one, so I won't say too much about it except that I found it to be a compelling and satisfying mystery.

5.  Second Sight by Aoife Clifford—I didn't absolutely love this Australian murder mystery since it's pretty bleak and depressing, but I did find it engrossing.  The atmospheric setting and twisty plot definitely won some readerly love from me.

6.  The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron—Cambron is a new discovery for me, so I'm working on reading her whole backlist.  I enjoyed this gentle romantic suspense novel about an unconventional woman making a living as an illusionist, just like her late mentor, Henry Houdini.

7.  The Hollows by Jess Montgomery—This is the second book in Montgomery's Lily Ross mystery series about a widow who takes over after her husband, the town sheriff, dies.  I think I liked the first book better, but this one also tells an engrossing tale which kept me guessing.

8.  Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien—The Noodle Shop mysteries are all super fun.  This one, the fourth in the series, is no exception.

9.  Tweet Cute by Emma Lord—This one is getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason.  It's a sweet, upbeat romance that's light, funny, and entertaining.  Looking for the perfect Valentine's Day read?  You've found it!

10.  The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan (available April 28, 2020)—I'm cheating with this one since I haven't read it yet, but a copy of this one is on its way to me as we speak.  I love novels about sisters, family mysteries, and DNA surprises, so this book—about three close-knit sisters who find out they're not the only Sweeneys out there—sounds fun.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to love it.

There you go, ten books that have earned my readerly love (or at least like).  Have you read any of them?  What did you think?  What topic did you choose for your love freebie today?  I'd truly love to know.  Comment on this post and I will return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT! 
Saturday, February 08, 2020

WWI Underground City Novel Not As Immersive As Promised

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Rosalyn Acosta doesn't care for France or its famous bubbly, yet here she is on her way to the country's Champagne region on a buying trip for her boss' winery.  Anyone would be envious of such a trip.  For Rosalyn, however, it's a painful reminder of her honeymoon in Paris, a celebration of a marriage that ended too soon, leaving her paralyzed with grief.  And debt.  Hence, her need to bring in some lucrative French accounts.

A chance conversation on the plane with her vivacious Australian seatmate piques Rosalyn's interest in a little-known fact about Champagne's tumultuous history.  During World War I, as bombs pelted the small town of Reims, France, its beleaguered citizens—mostly women and children—hid in the tunnels beneath the village's famous champagne houses.  In this underground city, the resilient occupants ran shops, a school, and even continued to harvest and store champagne.  As Rosalyn begins reading old letters describing wartime Reims from a young French soldier to his Australian pen pal, a marraine de guerre, she becomes so immersed in their story that she must know how it ends.  Suddenly, the trip Rosalyn has been dreading becomes something much, much more intriguing.

While Rosalyn gets acquainted with Champagne and researches its fascinating history, she finds herself rising out of the ashes of grief, finding herself again, and experiencing hope for the first time since her husband died.  Will she find all the answers she seeks in France?  

I love me a dual-timeline novel, especially one that's based on an intriguing historical detail like the underground WWI city in Champagne.  Throw in some old letters, a family mystery that will require a genealogical treasure hunt and you've pretty much caught me hook, line, and sinker.  Which means I should have absolutely adored The Vineyards of Champagne by Juliet Blackwell.   Despite the fact that it boasts a blend of elements I find particularly appealing, this novel turned out to be just an okay read for me.  Why?  As happens often in dual-timeline novels, I became more interested in the past storyline than the present and The Vineyards of Champagne spends most of its time in the latter.  Rosalyn drove me a little crazy with her self-absorbed whining.  I much preferred keeping company with the besieged folks of Reims.  It's them and their lifestyle I wanted to know more about.  Since I know little of France and nothing at all about champagne, I found these topics interesting.  Overall, though, The Vineyards of Champagne just seems to go on forever without really immersing the reader in the most interesting part of its premise—the underground WWI city of Reims.  In the end, then, I liked this novel well enough, just not as much as I wanted to.  It's interesting in a lot of ways, but its focus isn't where I wanted it to be if that makes sense.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, nothing's really coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

or brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Vineyards of Champagne from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: It's An A From Me

I'm a little late to the party today, but I didn't want to miss my favorite weekly meme.  I don't love the topic du jour:  Top Ten Books I Predict Will Be Five-Star Reads for Me.  Since I give out A grades so seldomly on my blog, it's difficult to predict which—if any—I will end up loving that much.  So, I'm going to put a little spin on my list and go with the Top Ten Books That Received A's From Me Most Recently.  That's an easier Top Ten to put together for me :)

Speaking of Top Ten Tuesday lists, doncha just want to make your own right now?  You totally can!  It's simple—all you have to do is jet on over to That Artsy Reader Girl, read a few simple guidelines, create your own list, and then hop around the book blogosphere checking out other people's posts.  Easy peasy.  Fun, too.  If you're looking for a way to check out new blogs, check in on old favorites, and discover new books to check out from the library, look no further.

Alright, here we go with the Top Ten Books That Received A's From Me Most Recently

Not surprisingly, half of these are books that were nominated for a Cybils Award in the YA Fiction category, for which I was a Round One judge.  I ended up loving many of the nominees, but these (1-6) are the ones I adored most, in no particular order.  Speaking of the Cybils, winners will be announced on Valentine's Day, so stay tuned.  I can't wait to see which books won, especially for YA Fiction.

1.  With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedomy review
Why I loved this book:  "It stars a strong heroine, who's surrounded by other colorful, sympathetic, likable characters.  The plot is engrossing, entertaining, and powerful.  Acevedo's prose is lyrical (not surprising since she's a poet), but approachable.  With themes of family, home, and community, it's a warm, moving novel that made for enjoyable reading." 

2.  Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribaymy review
Why I loved this book:  "Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay is a timely, hard-hitting novel that explores an underrepresented place and an issue that has been underexplored in the media and in fiction.  Ribay's descriptions of The Philippines make it obvious that he's been there—the details brought to mind the sights, smells, and phrases that I remember from the year I lived in the country.  While I think Ribay's depiction skews more toward the negative than the place really deserves, the vivid setting does create an authenticity that makes the story even more poignant.  Patron Saints of Nothing features a cast of complex, sympathetic, flawed characters about whom I came to care very much.  Its plot kept me turning pages wanting to know what was going to happen to them all.  Although the novel is sad, it's also moving and, ultimately, hopeful.  Unique and touching, it's a stand-out book that deserves all the accolades it's gotten."

3.  Let's Go Swimming On Doomsday by Natalie C. Andersonmy review
Why I loved this book:  "The characters are sympathetic, interesting, and complex.  The plot speeds along at a furious pace, with lots of action and heart-pounding scenes.  Anderson's prose is strong and her descriptions vivid, all of which makes the novel come to terrifying life.  Timely and moving, Let's Go Swimming on Doomsday is an exciting, important read that should appeal to even reluctant readers."  

4.  Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foleymy review
Why I loved this book:  "I've read a million books about grief, so I expected Sorry For Your Loss by Jessie Ann Foley to be just another run-of-the-mill story about loss.  And it is, in the sense that it concerns a family rocked by tragedy and the ways in which each individual member deals with it.  In other ways, it's not a typical grief story because, really, Sorry For Your Loss is about being seen.  This is something Pup struggles with as the youngest in a big family, the average Joe in a clan of overachievers, and the quiet, steady friend who puts up with being walked all over.  He's someone with whom everyone can relate at some level or another and it's impossible not to root for him.  As much as I love Pup as a character what I actually enjoyed most about Sorry For Your Loss is Foley's depictions of life in a large family.  Since I come from one, I know all too well the laughter, tears, tension, drama, and messy love inherent in big broods.  Foley's version rang so true for me that I found myself really feeling Pup's story on so many levels.  Sorry For Your Loss is a beautifully-written novel that's touching and true, relatable and real, poignant and powerful.  I adored it."

5.  The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetysmy review
Why I loved this book:  "Chock-full of vivid detail, Sepetys brings post-war Spain to colorful life, highlighting both its beauty and its struggles.  The main characters aren't anything super special, but they're likable and sympathetic.  Gentle but evocative and powerful, the story is also engrossing and compelling.  I'm not sure if teen readers will have the patience for its 472 pages, but I loved it." 

6.  The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Leemy review
Why I loved this book:  "It touches on a number of issues, maybe too many for one book, but still, it's a thought-provoking historical novel.  Which isn't to say it's preachy or heavy-handed.  It's not.  In fact, it's funny, engrossing, and compelling.  Jo is the kind of heroine who's easy to like and root for—she's smart, loyal, hard-working, and brave.  She's surrounded by equally interesting characters, who make for a colorful, fun cast.  With all these elements combining against a vivid historical backdrop, it shouldn't be difficult to see why I enjoyed The Downstairs Girl so much.  It's one of my favorite reads of 2019 and I highly recommend it for both adult and teen historical fiction lovers." 

Before my reading got hijacked by the Cybils, these next four earned my highest praise:

7.  Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Centermy review
Why I loved this book:  "From start to finish, it's a funny, upbeat, heartfelt novel that is simply a joy to read.  It's so engaging that not only did I inhale it in (almost) one sitting, but I also immediately missed everything about it as soon as I closed the book.  As humorous as the story is, it's also poignant, affecting, and sweet as Cassie learns some important lessons about family, forgiveness, friendship, and, of course, love.  Things You Save in a Fire has gotten all kinds of positive buzz—trust me when I say there's a reason for that.  It's a delightful read that I absolutely loved."

8.  The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colganmy review
Why I loved this book:  "Like its predecessor, The Bookshop on the Shore is warm, sweet, and funny.  I adored everything about it, from the setting to the writing to the characters, both new and familiar.  As much as I enjoyed The Bookshop on the Corner, I liked this one even better as it has more depth to it.  Colgan writes such fun books." 

9.  The Bright Unknown by Elizabeth Byler Yountsmy review
Why I loved this book:  "The Bright Unknown is a bit of a departure (although an Amish family does have a small cameo in the novel), but it still showcases Younts' trademarks—lush prose, sympathetic characters, and a gentle tone that makes her stories shine with empathy, humanity, and heart.  As heartbreaking as this tale is, it's also thought-provoking, faith-promoting (without being heavy-handed or cheesy), and hope-filled.  I adored it." 

10.  The Island of Sea Women by Lisa Seemy review
Why I loved this book:  "Rich with detail about Jeju, the haenyeo, and Korea's tumultuous history, the novel is expansive and intimate at the same time.  The culture it explores is fascinating, the story it tells heartbreaking, but empowering.  Although The Island of Sea Women isn't a quick read, it's beautiful, absorbing, and unforgettable.  I loved it."  

There you have it, ten of my A-grade reads.  What do you think?  Have you read any of these?  Were they A reads for you?  I'd truly love to know.  Leave a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on your blog.

Happy TTT!
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